8/27/2015

Goodbye, Bank. Hello, Credit Union

Dear Bank,
Telling you this isn't easy. I really don't know what to say. Life has been good between us for a few years but things are changing now. Our relationship has lasted longer than a lot of other relationships. The fact is Bank, that things are changing for both of us. Neither of us are who we used to be anymore. I haven't fully decided to leave yet but I think it's time for me to start seeing someone else.
We've had our ups and downs haven't we Bank? I've trusted you with my deepest financial secrets. You have been there for me during the day and late at night. When my account was broken into you were there to tell me not to worry. That long night was followed by stressful days. You were right when you said it would work out okay. I appreciated that.
Lately though, I've just not been feeling the love. It's taking me longer to get through to speak to you. Now, just when you're needed the most you decide to slap me with extra fees.
The slap caused me to look around. It turns out that there are others out there who are willing to take your place. They are offering to do the same things for me that you did and more. The name is Credit Union.
You might be thinking that this is a sudden decision. Actually, I've been seeing Credit Union for some time now. I've trusted them with the tiny savings accounts of my children. They have been good to my kids and have demonstrated higher interest on savings than you have.
The lady behind the counter knows my family by name. When I call she always asks how the kids are doing in school. They have free bill pay, free online-based checking and oh yeah, free debit cards.
Then there's all the extra things that the Credit Union does for me. We're talking about things like free financial planning services, lower interest loans and a complimentary life insurance policy.
There is a membership fee that has to be paid. My Credit Union has a $25 dollar fee. This helps to keep the other services free. It doesn't matter how many accounts I have or how few. It's a one time deal on the cost. If I ever leave Credit Union will give the $25 bucks back.
Bank, I know that you want me to keep $500 or so in the bank to avoid fees. But the $25 is a lot easier for me right now. You know how it goes. Like everyone else I'm a little strapped. I'd ask for a loan but I'm pretty sure you'd turn me down. That's ok. You have to do what you have to do. That's why I do too.
Good-bye, Bank. Maybe I'll see you around sometime.
Note:
This article was written after the author did some comparison shopping between her bank and credit union. She ultimately decided that choosing the credit union was the best option for her in today's financial world climate.

8/18/2015

College Students Can Save Money with These Budget Stretching Tips

College students can save money with these budget stretching ideas. Most have entered a new world where terms like budgeting and spending plans is a reality instead of a distant theory. Any parent can tell you that college students are perpetually strapped for cash.
Through the years we have been able to help our college students develop strategies to save money and stretch their budget. For the most part my daughters have been able to budget successfully. We do occasionally get emergency phone calls but even these are becoming more rare.
Coffee
This is one area that both of my daughters have struggled with. Since some dorms don't allow coffee pots it makes coffee houses that much more attractive. Stretching a budget doesn't mean giving up on Starbucks completely. Limiting visits, going to a smaller size or downgrading toppings is a budget stretching strategy that can save money.
Pizza
One of the most popular meals for college students has to be pizza. Asking about specials before ordering is can save money. Getting one topping and using coupons are other budget stretching ideas.
Movies
College students enjoy movies as much as everyone else. Matinees are always less expensive than evening showings. Discounted tickets may be available with an automobile club membership or in bulk. A simple budget stretching idea is skipping on the movie theater snacks. If you must, Carmike Cinemas offers a popcorn bucket for $15 that is refillable for $2.50.
See a play
Instead of a movie why not go to a play? Performances in the lab theaters on campus are usually free. College students can often save money on main stage productions by volunteering to usher. Attending a play is a fun way to spend an evening out.
Buy used and help the environment.
Save money by buying used. Recycling stretches the budget and saves the environment. College students can check campus bulletin boards for used refrigerators or furniture items. Used textbooks can be purchased from the college campus bookstore or from online booksellers.
Lock it if you want to keep it.
Protecting valuables is an important tool to save money. Locking a bicycle may not seem like a budget stretching tip until the bike is stolen. College students can save money by not leaving cell phones or lap tops unattended. Software like the free Prey Project may help get the laptop back if stolen.
Research gas prices.
College students can save money on gas by searching online first. Checking sites like GasBuddy.com is a budget stretching tip that everyone can use. A few minutes online to find the closest gas station with the best price can help students save at the pump.
Couponing works for college students.
Grocery coupons are another area where college students can and should save money. Look in the local newspaper, supermarket and online for budget stretching coupons. Skipping the campus convenience centers in favor of traditional grocery stores can also help college students save money.
Eliminate bank and ATM fees.

Another budget stretching tip is to forget the fees. College students can save money by using the ATM at their bank. Plus, many financial institutions have free checking accounts for college students.
Don't speed.
Park in the right lots has to be the easiest budget stretching tip to practice. Parking fines kill the budgets of college students everyone. Parking in the right spot helps college students save money, avoid frustration and stretch the budget.

The Neotnic transformation of Mickey Mouse kept me up at night

Summarizing the "A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse" kept me up at night. It helped to have a wealth of experience to draw on. At first glance, “A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse,” by author and Harvard professor Stephen J. Gould, appears to be about Mickey Mouse. However, a closer look reveals it to be an allegory of human interaction with children. Neotany is the retention of juvenile features, which Gould discusses in his article. Gould was influenced by researcher Konrad Lorenz, who postulated that juvenile features automatically trigger an instinctive response in humans to nurture babies. This response is important to the continuation of humanity.
Mickey’s appearance changed as he reached new audiences. Audiences viewing the “Steamboat Willie” (1928) debut demanded better than to see Mickey beat on cows. By his fiftieth birthday, his behavior improved and his sharp-nosed, small-eyed appearance metamorphosed into that of a big-eyed toddler. Mickey’s suspenders became baggy clothes. The neotonic transformation included creating a softer face by moving the ears back on the head, a shorter nose, and rounded jaw line, giving him a more childlike somatotype. Mickey looks like a child, therefore we relate to him as a child.

Because humans are lifelong learners, toy industry researchers are keenly interested in making dolls more appealing; Mickey is no exception. To explore the transformation, Gould scientifically compared three versions of Mickey to Mickey’s less-popular cousin “Morty Mouse.” Except for head length, Morty retained adult features while Mickey appears younger now than at the debut. Ultimately, it is the transference of human emotion onto inanimate objects that enables us to form a lifelong appreciation of Mickey Mouse.